#2244: TailTurner

I was inspired today by this little robot’s ability to change direction very rapidly.

This works by conservation of angular momentum of the whole system (car+tail). As the tail whips around in one direction, the body spins in the opposite direction to meet it.


Having low friction feet means that the robot can make these turns with very small frictional losses.

All this set me thinking about today’s invention: a car with a tail.

Such a vehicle would carry some mass at the end of a hinged cantilever tail (this might be where the fuel was stored).

The hinge would be powered by a fast-response electric motor.

Using four fat conventional tyres would result in significant damage to them on every tight turn, so it might be necesssary to equip the vehicle with more, computer-steerable wheels (including perhaps under the tail itself).

The accelerations induced would still of course need to be less than would cause damage to the occupants, but in principle such a vehicle could make very rapid changes of direction (perhaps useful for a military vehicle attempting to evade incoming missiles).

This form of transport could be made more comfortable by having seats which rotated in coordination with changes in direction, but more gradually, keeping the occupants’ backs against the seatbacks.